The Octathalon

Our Vision

Our vision is to develop and grow a new sport for gyms and health clubs – The Octathalon.

Our aim for this new sport is to provide excellent & sustained motivation for everyone, at all ages, who train in gyms and health clubs around the world as well as for anyone else who enjoys their fitness.

We also would like to create financially attractive career paths for personal trainers who we see as the most important people in the health and fitness industry.

We aim to run UK National, European and World Octathalon Championships where there are 8 lanes of people racing in a knock out style competition. We are also looking for others to join us in other Regions from around the World.

The Octathalon provides extremely close, exciting finishes that are fun to watch. With the development planned, we see the sport becoming one that attracts large audiences in the years to come, both at the venue and on television.

We see a future where clubs are competing against other clubs in local Octathalon events. We see top clubs, with the best Octathaletes, competing against each other on a Regional and National scale to become the best in the country. We see the best going on to compete internationally.

We have already seen that Clubs that have embraced the Octathalon have found many benefits as their members communicate much more with each other to the extent that a really positive atmosphere has grown. We want to see all clubs have this really positive atmosphere.

Our aim is for the sport of Octathalon to be financially independent.

Our aim here is to provide an extra stream of income to the trainers, coaches and on line Motivators who want to work with the Octathalon program.

Our aim is to have partners within the fitness industry who can also benefit financially from the Octathalon and we are open to all parties who would like to talk to us with ideas on how they can make money from the Octathalon in return for promoting the sport and increasing its participants.

Octathalon – The Story

People often ask us how it all began. The journey started out in Devon, England where one of the Octathalon founder members Jacqui Macquisten was living with her two young children near to her mother’s pub in a little village called Exton right next to the Royal Marine Commando Training Centre.

Jacqui had become too old at 18 to continue her sport of gymnastics and now with children she had less time than ever to train. As with many people in similar circumstances, she still had a love of competitions and challenges as they provide, amongst other things, great motivation.

With some of the fittest Royal Marine PTI’s on her doorstep, it was not long before she was invited on an open day to try to do their commando training course. She impressed them so much that she was allowed to train with them at their own gym in the Marine camp.

There was a man there called Darren Robson (Robbo) who was considered by many as one of the fittest and toughest Marines of them all and, after she matched him one for one for over 80 press ups, she impressed him so much that he asked her if she would like to compete against others in a fitness challenge over a series of exercises that included a mixture of Cardiovascular exercises (CV) and weights.

The short, sharp, intense training suited Jacqui and the idea of a challenge appealed to her competitive spirit. Before long she was one of the top female competitors in the country travelling all over to the few events that were being run. What really helped her though was that with a busy home life, the type of training that was required did not take up much time.

As with all new businesses, a gap in the market is seen and this is what Jacqui and her husband saw over 7 years ago but, at that point, they only had the time to investigate, test & research their ideas.

The fitness challenges that existed back then were all over different courses, of which, some were better than others and some were just ready to bring on injuries. There was also another problem, they were all just challenges. What was needed was to make an event that was really more of a race where there was a winner who crossed the line first. These were just time trial challenges where the first and second place people might not even have competed against each other.

If you could set something up that was a race and then design a great, well balanced course that really tested fitness and recovery rates, then you could begin to create a sport.

With her knowledge of fitness and qualifications as a personal trainer, Jacqui knew what was needed. Critical to this was that the winner should really be the person who had trained best and who knew their body best so that they could judge their race pace best. If the fastest runner, or fastest rower, or fastest cyclist could always win then there would be no point - and no sport - as sports already existed for these people.

This meant the course had to end with the combination of CV then weights. That way it was all about judging your level of fitness on the CV element to leave enough in the body to complete the weights repetitions.

Her husband had fortunately had a past history of running National and International windsurfing competitions and had had some experience in designing races and courses that could provide excellent television viewing. For a new sport to work well on a global scale it meant that the end of the race had to be spellbinding, tense and close and something that the camera could easily show. There was only one weights exercise that could produce all of that and that was the shoulder press.

Having the shoulder press after a treadmill run was the winning formula and the one that became the Octathalon signature. The other six exercises naturally fell into place in the only order they could fit and work best.

What was now needed was to put on the first Octathalon event and equipment manufacturer Precor were so impressed with the concept that they agreed to support the first ever event with brand new equipment.

The second piece of good luck came with the local leisure centre that had a huge main hall. The general manager at the time was under immense pressure from the council to do more for the community and he agreed to allow us to run the first event for free as long as we allowed some local competitors to race.

With Jacqui being so well known amongst the Royal Marines and other top sports people she soon had the best in the UK wanting to race in the new 4 round racing format.

The race was set up in four lanes with the fastest 2 going through into the next round. It was going to be a tough day with competitors going into new territory with endurance and intensity both being a main requirement.

This combination of endurance and intensity still today taxes the minds of the top competitors as they try to work out how best to train for the event. The problem being was that the more you train for endurance for the 4 rounds with 4 races on the same day ; the more you lacked the intensity required for the fast times. In addition to that the more you did interval work to train your body to cope with the required intensity, the more you eroded your endurance base. Coaching top Octathaletes was becoming an art.

On the day of the first event no one had imagined how close the racing was going to be. In over half the races decisions were down to less than one second after 10 minutes of racing. We almost had our first dead heat in the men’s semi finals but fortunately we were filming the racing and we were able to see an action replay to find out who crossed the line first. The margin was just inches.

The event was a tremendous success but that left us wondering where to go next. To develop as sport you needed infrastructure in many areas and you needed people to grow it at its grass roots.

We knew the key to this lay with the personal trainers but these people were generally either overworked with no time or had little or no business and not well paid. What was needed was something that could both excite them and reward them financially.

At this point Jacqui was still raising her two sons and doing a little 1:1 personal training and large corporations running health club chains showed no interest at all in the Octathalon. To them, at that time, they could see no money in it for them. (Now though things are different)

The next breakthrough came the following year with a new sponsor for the Octathalon – Suunto.

Suunto, an excellent Finnish company, made precision time keeping equipment and amongst them digital heart rate monitors. Suunto were about to bring out a new receiver that allowed for several heart rates to be picked up from around a room and displayed on a large screen. They agreed to test the new equipment out at our event and we were soon involved in a ‘World first’.

Never before in the history of sport, live in a race, could competitors see each others heart rates. They were displayed for all to see at the end of the course on a giant screen.

This added a new psychological dimension to their racing as each could see how the others were faring and how close they were getting toward becoming anaerobic.

Racing that year was even closer and again the sport was hailed as a resounding success.

Now that the heart rate element had been introduced, Jacqui found that her own training could become far more precise. Knowledge of heart rates during actual racing compared to training allowed her to learn things that were not even written about in scientific papers. Continuing on with this she began researching even more about how to get the best for her race training from using these digital heart rate monitors.

It was this information that allowed the first ever heart rate training diary to be produced so that personal trainers and other sports people could begin to learn the secrets. This now allowed a new opportunity to open up.

If a way could be started so that personal trainers could make more money in a given time, they might be persuaded to become Octathalon trainers and to run Octathalon events.

This led to breakthrough thinking and it allowed her to go on and create group personal training.

At that point in time no one was doing this and still today no one was doing this with an end in mind that would give people a goal to train for – the Octathalon.

In addition it was soon found that group training was easier and more fun for personal trainers as people were working in pairs where they helped each other. The trainer just facilitated the sessions on the gym floor and studio space was not even needed.

Testing of this was begun in clubs in Bristol & Swindon as well as a club up in Lancashire. People loved it and, not only that, they were finding that the short, sharp, intense training was giving them unexpected results. Aside from getting fitter they were also gaining a more preferred shape within a very short space of time. They were also spending less time in the gym. Some of them even found that their performances in their other sports were getting better after many years of no improvement at all.

Still though all the ingredients were not quite there for the sport to take off. 

Timing though has a habit of being positive. In this instance we were waiting for the advent of new technology.

What was needed to create a new sport was something that could make it Universal to everyone quickly and easily and one that fitted in with the way the future was going. This meant that we needed a special type of interactive multifunctional website. The website we had at the time was getting dated and did not have the required technical specifications.

Finding someone who could develop a website that had the functionality was therefore possibly going to be difficult. As fortune would have it we did not have to look to far to find someone who was a database designer, someone who could do their own programming and someone who had designed their own content management system who we could have faith in to deliver us a website with the right specifications. We also needed to work with a designer who also understood these new technologies so that the designs for the new site would work alongside the functionality.

The result is this new website with the Power of 8 ranking system database and the 8 graded membership levels and a financially rewarding group motivator system that can now cope with thousands and thousands of members worldwide and which can allow trainers to get up and running with the Octathalon programs almost immediately. We had finally got to the point where we could begin.

The Octathalon is now ready for you.

Are you ready for the Octathalon?